I find myself drawn to the same books continuously. When it isn’t thrillers or suspense titles, you can find me stuck in a good romance or some historical fiction. Preferably, fiction set around the Second World War, tales of human resiliency and the rebellion fascinate me. Ironically, with all my changing genres, I don’t read a lot of novels in the YA genre, but when I do, I often find myself drawn to the dystopian sort. I love getting lost in this sort of “what if” world that feels too real, too close for comfort. Needless to say, when I stumbled across The Big Lie, the upcoming novel by Julie Mayhew, a dystopian, coming of age, YA novel set in modern day Nazi occupied England, I threw this one at the top of my TBR pile and dove in.
The novel surrounds a young girl, Jessika, who is a model citizen living in Nazi-run England. She obeys her father, she tries to impress her elders and she is loyal to her country. However, her neighbour and best friend Clementine is not the same. Clem is loud and outspoken, much to Jess’ dismay. The louder Clem gets, the more nervous Jess becomes until she finds herself wrapped up so tightly in Clem’s world that things start to feel confusing. Jess has always thought she was doing the right thing, but what happens when the right things start to feel wrong?
First, I thought the concept of this book worked brilliantly. The fall of the Nazi empire is a well known and discussed part of history; thinking about what it would be like if the Nazi’s had not fallen makes an incredible dystopian backdrop. The Nazi propaganda and thought process littered throughout the text made it all feel eerily realistic.
Another exciting surprise was the LGBTQ aspect that was worked and weaved throughout the character arcs; I was not expecting that! I will stop at that since I do not want to give away any spoilers but I loved this inclusion into the story.
One of my only complaints was that I did find the novel dragged a bit by the end and I began to lose interest. I felt like the last quarter of the book was starting to feel redundant and I also was not 100% pleased in the end, without giving away any spoilers (of course!) I felt like the character switched directions a little bit and moved a few steps backward which really disappointed me, especially since the rest of the text felt so progressive.
However, overall, I felt like this was a stellar read! Reminiscent of books like The Handmaid’s Tale and 1984, I felt like this book held my interest and made me think.